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Optimizing exercise, hygiene, QOL


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This is a chitchat topic in the chitchat section, so fair warning - it's chitchat!

I, like many, have an interest in optimizing my use of time, and so one of the tricks I use is to compound many activities simultaneously. 

One of such is brushing teeth, which I need to do daily under any circumstances - so why not simultaneously do a few exercises. This has been a subject of a few threads around here, but this is my update to the latest iteration.

One issue for people is spending enough time brushing teeth - it's boring - and the electric toothbrush is helpful here with a timer that indicates if you've brushed long enough. However, another motivation is to complete your cycle of exercises which takes some time. 

At present, my protocol is as follows - this I do twice a day, morning before the first meal and evening after the last meal:

1)Brush with the electric toothbrush without toothpaste for 6 minutes

I do this while standing on one leg for the entire 6 minutes - which I alternate, morning f.ex. left, and evening right - the leg is bent at the knee. The aim is to hone my sense of balance which deteriorates as we age, to strengthen the stabilizing muscles which weaken with age, and to strengthen the leg bone (Japanese research indicates standing on one leg strengthens the bones in that leg, we've gone over that research on these boards, it's the so called Dynamic Flamingo Therapy). I can report that holding that position for 6 minutes really challenges the muscles (the knee is bent!) in ways quite similar to the way holding a yoga position does.

2)After brushing with the electric toothbrush, I switch the leg and now brush with a mechanical brush for approx 4 minutes with toothpaste

I now stand on the other leg, also bent at the knee. Using a regular toothbrush allows me to brush my gums, tongue and other soft buccal tissue. 

I do this 5 times a week - Mon through Fri - and I just brush my teeth on Sat and Sun while standing on both feet and only using the electric toothbrush.

My latest addition to this protocol has been to now add standing on my toes, not the whole foot - this significantly escalates the balance challenge as well as the muscle challenge! I have added this mod just about a week ago, and I still find it quite a challenge, where I lose balance at least once. I think with time I'll master it fully, but so far it's been quite an interesting addition. 

To escalate the challenge, you can also close your eyes - but do it only if you are confident you are not going to fall over and hurt yourself in the bathroom - I only recommend this if you have fully met the other aspects of this exercise and only if you have confidence you can handle the possible dangers!

My concern was overbrushing, so I brush fairly gently. I have quarterly teeth cleaning at my periodontist and I always ask if he sees any signs of overbrushing - so far, so good, and he says that judging by the state of my gums and pocket depth, my hygiene is impeccable.

My other concern was use of time - this takes about 10 minutes twice a day, so 20 minutes a day spent on teeth. That would seem to me too much, if I was *only* brushing my teeth, but I feel justified when I add the exercise aspect, so my QOL is elevated by gains in both hygiene impact on teeth health and in better balance and muscle/bone health.

I now have in mind much more difficult challenges. What if I added one legged squats to this? So, now the compound would look like this: 

1) One leg, 6 minutes tooth brushing

2) On toes, not the whole foot

3) Closed eyes

4) Rise up and down similar to pistol squats througout the whole 6 minutes - on my toes thoroughout

And down the line, an additional tweak, but this might be a bridge too far - what if I did all this on my whole body vibration platform? That would allow me to get my whole body vibration sessions combined with the toothbrushing and exercising to save time? This will present some difficulties as even if I only do it once a day on the platform, say, the morning session, with the evening session without the platform, I'd still need to store the platform in the bathroom as it's not practical to move it around. I suspect my wife would think I've lost my mind if I added the vibration machine to the scale in the bathroom :)

Anyhow, if I can manage to compound all of this into one chunk of time, it might be a great way to optimize the use of time. The next step would be to do all this while listening to some educational material through apple airpods, so that I can compound some mental activity and learning into this.

Anyhow, that's my one rat report on optimization efforts wrt. hygiene and health.


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Well, your toothbrush doesn't "recommend" a given length of time, as much as it is programmed for it - somewhat arbitrarily. I did some research years ago, and from what I remember, the research indicated that you continue to remove debris after the 3 minute mark, but they did not reach a conclusion as to when you're "done" - I suppose it's one of those "how long is a piece of string" questions, you'll keep removing until diminishing returns, where that point is, probably depends on any number of factors - how much is there to begin with, how accurate and thorough your brushing technique is, and so on. The danger here is overbrushing, where you either damage the gums, or start removing enamel. This is down less to time, although it can be a factor, but more to materials, technique and timing (not lenght of time!) - if your brush bristles are abrasive, your toothpaste is abrasive, you press too hard etc. - I try to be mindful of this, which is why you'll note that I don't use tootpaste in my electric toothbrush, only in my mechanical one, and a non-abrasive toothpaste at that, I try to do it gently using good technique. Timing - don't brush right after a meal, as the enamel on your teeth has been softened by the acids from the meal, and you need to give it about 30 minutes to harden back, otherwise you're brushing against softened enamel - not good! Additionally, you must allow time for remineralization. The saliva against your teeth remineralizes your enamel overnight - and the longer, the better (dry mouth is extremely destructive - that's the true reason for "meth-mouth" in addition to grinding teeth); because I fast for 18 hours daily overnight, I have an unusually long time allowing for remineralization. And you must take pains to not assault your teeth with acids by holding acidic/sugary foods too long in your mouth, swishing sugary liquids in your mouth - after I eat some fruit, I often finish my meal by swishing some tea in my mouth - but only green/white tea, as good quality green/white tea is alkaline, while ordinary teas are mildly acidic (I drink quite a bit while I eat - I believe you know why, since you listened to that podcast I recommended with the doctor about uric acid - high spikes of sugar from food without being simultaneously diluted with drinking is the danger - therefore, drink while you eat and the same amount of sugar will not be destructive). Finally, being sensitive to the issue, I regularly query my periodontist for any sign of overbrushing - and I have my teeth cleaned by him (not a hygenist!) four times a year, so very frequent careful inspections by a specialist. So far, he's seen no such signs, so...

I hope I have horrified you with the extent of my detailed analysis of this question :)... but I take oral health very seriously (and health in general, of course), and I therefore have done a quite a bit of research and given all my interventions a decent amount of thought and planning. 

This compounding of functions while toothbrushing is a journey - not something you do in one fell swoop. First you start with standing on one leg, straight, and once you've mastered that, you do it with your knee bent, you start with 2 minutes, then gradually to 6. I only started on my toes recently and have still not mastered it fully. Adding the pistol squats will be a whole new escalation - and so on, it can be pretty extensive... when I do master the pistol squats on my toes, I plan on doing jumping pistol squats on toes - where the rising part of the squat is an actual jump up, landing on your toes. It can be extraordinarily challenging, but that's the fun :)

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Wow!  Tom, thank you!  I actually tried the one-legged bit already.  I also have become more careful with my mouth lately, but there is a lot of sensible advice and information in your post.  I didn't connect meth mouth to the lack of saliva and your take on the timing sounds well-researched -- I just still remember the old lady who sued (Oral-B?) for overbrushing and losing her teeth.

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10 hours ago, TomBAvoider said:

after I eat some fruit, I often finish my meal by swishing some tea in my mouth - but only green/white tea, as good quality green/white tea is alkaline, while ordinary teas are mildly acidic

After reading another thread on the subject, I try to swish my mouth with soda (sodium bicarbonate) after eating fruit. That's surely alkaline.

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I'd like to emphasize, that this isn't simply a random 'exercise' routine. It's crafted specifically to address the aging process and the vulnerabilities that crop up as we age. The older people get, the more they lose teeth and the more dental problems they get, with knock-on issues downstream (cardiovascluar, dementia, even cancer). So a carefully designed routine of dental hygiene is very much geared to that reality. Same thing with falls - a major danger for older people is falling, breaking bones and the resultant morbidity. To tackle this, we need to look at every component of this problem. Balance - this is vital, as our sense of balance continues to deteriorate, and this set of routines hones in on that. Muscle strength and control, especially the legs and core - this is directly affected by not only strengthening the big muscles like quads, but all the supporting muscles that aid in stability - I feel this especially acutely now that I'm trying to balance on my toes! Bone strength - this was the original aim in the Japanese developing the Dynamic Flamingo Therapy - leg bone health in the elderly. Coordination and learning addresses the neurological aspect. For a small investment of time centered around an activity which we must do daily anyway (tooth brushing), I feel like this is a massive return on investment. Of course, again, start slowly, and gradually add the compounding elements.

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It is generally agreed, that for the average person without periodontal issues, cleanings twice a year are sufficient. However, for those who want to go the extra mile, or who do have gum issues, more frequent is recommended. Personally, I go quarterly, and I have my cleanings done by a periodontist (not hygienist) - but full disclosure, I'm a bit OCD when it comes to oral health. I've already had two cleanings this year, and I will have another one soon. COVID-19 is not a big issue if the office takes basic precautions - no crowding in waiting rooms, everybody wears masks, there is adequate ventilation. I have not heard of any dental-related covid cases, but again, basic precautions need to be taken - this of course means the providers wear full protection. It is not however risk-free. If I were in a covid-vulnerable subpopulation, I'd probably skip any unnecessary contact with dental health providers (barring an emergency, of course). The danger is not so much from other patients - this can be avoided by staggered intake of patients - but from the providers who may not know they're carriers.

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